The rising global financial tide appears to be brushing the shores of upstate New York's economy.
Gasoline at local pumps is under $2.50 a gallon as global oil prices bottom out. The price of milk is down in some stores. Early in 2015, things appear to be looking bright for people's finances.
Economist Hugh Johnson explains the state follows the nation's lead in all things economy. "Let's just say there's not much change policymakers in Albany can make in order to try to adjust to make us a little bit stronger, to make the state perform a little bit stronger, but when you get down to the local level, a lot of differences occur. You see some real strength in some parts of the state, weakness in other parts of the state. And certainly, I think the big surprise, or let's say the 'welcome surprise' is that we've seen some real strength as measured by employment in the so-called Capital Region. That's not throughout the Capital Region: it's primarily places like Saratoga, which we know has done well, and quite frankly, Rensselaer County is also showing some fairly good numbers, both of them look like not only they show good strength and employment but it looks like that's gonna continue through 2015 and 2016."
The Albany-area job market continued strong for December – career transition specialist Dan Moran compiles NextAct of Colonie's jobs report, previously issued weekly, now being reported monthly, which Moran attributes to the stability in the job market. "The number of employers planning to hire new people - that isn't just replacing, but new people - is over 50 percent. We haven't seen that in a number of years. Number two, we are seeing employers fill positions more rapidly that have been vacated, again a sign that people are needed."
And Johnson says people are using falling gas prices to their advantage. "Consumers are choosing to save some of the money that they're putting in their pocket because of the so-called 'oil dividend,' but as always in the case of economics there are trade-offs, and the trade-off in this case is a decline in the price of oil … really symptomatic of a slowdown in the global economy in general."
Johnson notes Russia is in recession, affecting Europe's economy. Moran says there's a worldwide wild card that could impact the local economy. "Should we see an increase in terrorism, should we see a lot of concern in the marketplace over terrorism and the impact on travel and other associated areas, that could have a negative impact. But having said all that, If I'm sitting here looking at 2015 I think it's gonna be a good year for people, not great, we're not out of the woods yet from where we were before the recession, but we are improving and improving steadily."
In a speech Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the global economy remains "on its knees" and will not be bolstered by the collapse in oil prices. She expects the worldwide financial future to be a volatile one.